What are polyps?
Polyps are abnormal growths rising from the lining of the large intestine (colon or rectum) and protruding into the intestinal canal (lumen). Some polyps are flat; others have a stalk.
Polyps are one of the most common conditions affecting the colon and rectum, occurring in 15 to 20 percent of the adult population. Although most polyps are benign, the relationship of certain polyps to cancer is well established.
Polyps can occur throughout the large intestine or rectum, but are more commonly found in the left colon, sigmoid colon, or rectum.
Do polyps need to be treated?
Since there is no fool-proof way of predicting whether or not a polyp is or will become malignant, total removal of all polyps is advised. The vast majority of polyps can be removed by snaring them with a wire loop passed through the instrument. Small polyps can be destroyed simply by touching them with a coagulating electrical current.
Most colon examinations using the flexible colonoscope, including polyp removal, can be performed on an outpatient basis with minimal discomfort. Large polyps may require more than one treatment for complete removal. Some polyps cannot be removed by instruments because of their size or position; surgery is then required.